FILMS and TV… Five Fave 1980s Film and Telly Cars



Strap yourself in for my Top 5 1980s Film and Telly Cars…


If you had to pick 5 famous cars from the 1980s, which cars would drive you crazy (in a good way)… including a wee guest post.



Recently, I was asked to review my favourite 1980s cars in a post by the podcaster, Dave from 80’s Reboot Overdrive. This post along with a number of other lovely 1980s blogs will be getting a mention in his podcast. There will also be an accompanying podcast where this topic is to be discussed. Links to these other blog posts have been added below. A link to the podcast will be added soon…

Here are those all-important links:

After discussing this topic with my “editor”, – and  Darlin Husband – he got super enthusiastic about this subject regaling me with a list as long as your arm about it. I learned the makes of lots of many, many memorable cars, and here are my Top 5. And a wee bonus (in)post all about Darlin Husband’s theory about KITT from Knight Rider written by the man himself.


The Ferrari 250 GT California in Ferris Buellers Day Off (1986)

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) – Trailer, OldSchoolTrailers

At the beginning of this Brat Pack film, young schoolboy Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) tries to manipulate his poor unsuspecting, hypochondriac best friend Cameron (Alan Ruck) – the only one of the trio off school for genuine reasons – into driving him and Bueller’s girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara) around in this car as the pair bunk off school.

Ferris needs a car to pick up Sloane from school.  This means using the car belonging to Cameron’s father. It’s his father’s pride in joy, but his son, Cameron not so much. The car, a Ferrari 250 GT California is introduced in awe by Bueller – along with the corresponding camera work – with the film’s soundtrack thumping simultaneously with Cameron’s heartbeat at his thought of this being found by his father as Bueller drives away. However, on return from their day out the car meets with its doom, but a new confident Cameron emerges, who can stick up for himself with his father and his friend.

Ferraris are also the symbol of many 1980s TV men of the strong and masterful type. Think of Tom Selleck as Magnum PI (1980-88) of the Hawaiian shirts and that famous moustache – or the car of the equally natty pastel shaded designer suits with the sleeves turned up of TV’s Miami Vice (1984-90) cops, Crockett and Tubbs.

A Ferrari famously features in more 1980s movies too with the lovely model Christine Brinkley flirting with Chevy Chase from one in National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983) distracting him from the road and his wife and family.


The 1969 Dodge Charger in The Dukes of Hazzard (1979-85)

The Dukes Of Hazzard TV Intro, The1970sChannel

A childhood TV favourite series has to be the Dukes of Hazzard tells of the escapades of those darn Duke boys of Hazzard County. The show with the memorable theme tune starred John Schneider as Bo and Tom Wopat as Luke, the Duke brothers, both living with their cousin Daisy Duke (Catherine Bach) and good ol’ Uncle Jesse. The Duke boys were always getting into trouble evading their nemesis Boss Hogg and his trusty sidekick, Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane. The latter however was both as useless as a bet on a certain actor to win the Best Actor Oscar up until this year.

Although the length of Daisy’s shorts (and legs) were remembered more by the hot-blooded man of the 1980s, their car called General Lee – a 1969 Dodge Charger –  also got their attention. This car with the memorable horn, involvement in police chases and stunts, was bright orange with a battle confederate flag on its roof and “General Lee” written over each door and “01” written on the doors referring to the civil war confederate General of the same name. But then in the 1980s, you could literally get away with controversial references.


The DeLorean DMC-12 in Back to the Future (1985)

Back To The Future (1985) Theatrical Trailer – Michael J. Fox Movie HD, Movieclips Trailer Vault

The first film in this time travelling trilogy introduces us to this car and the recurring characters of the movies. The car is revealed as it makes a dramatic entrance in the film, with the familiar soundtrack, then as the car is driven out of a truck there is smoke billowing around it.. the smoke disappears and the car is revealed. Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) the inventor, talks us through an experiment with the car and his all too trusting dog but the car disappears.

But just as you catch your breath, its big reveal is it’s not just a car, it is a time machine In the first film of the trilogy, Marty McFly (Michael J Fox) –  the Doc’s young friend – inadvertently returns in the car to 1955, where his mother falls for him and – on visiting a younger version of the Doc – learns he must encourage her instead to have a relationship with his father so that he is born.  It also led to two sequels and more than a few scenes much later parodied in Family Guy (1999-).


The Pontiac Firebird Trans Am in Knight Rider (1992-86)

Knight Rider – Original Show Intro | NBC Classics

Everyone of a certain age had a crush on this leather clad legend, and it wasn’t just the car but the cult figure that is David Hasselhoff as Michael Knight. Michael Knight was an undercover Lothario of a detective who saved many a damsel in distress with the help of this trusty car, KITT through verbal and written guidance from its inbuilt computer.

The computer was voiced by William Daniels (who played Dustin Hoffman’s father in The Graduate (1967). Groovy accompanying gadgets helped fight the bad guys and KITT’S words of wisdom also kept Knight in check.

Now for something completely different,


My Darlin Husband with his theory on KITT…

KITT’s visor is identical to that of a Cylon centurion from the classic Battlestar Galactica series (1978-1980).


Why would this be? The obvious answer is they are both Glen A. Larson productions, and the man was a master of recycling ideas (Harlon Ellison called him “Glen Larceny” after a lawsuit taken out by 20th Century Fox against Universal for ripping off so many ideas from Star Wars for the cheesy late 70s TV series).

Let’s put aside studio shenanigans for a moment and step into the universe of KITT and Michael. How did the Knight Foundation come across advanced AI in the early 80s, when state of the art was “Do you want to play a game Professor Falken”?

The answer is the epitome of turn-of-the-decade cheese and cheapness, Galactica 1980. When Battlestar Galactica was cancelled, a write-in by fans encouraged ABC to relaunch the series. With a tighter budget they had the series set on 20th century Earth – the whole plot of Battlestar Galactica revolved around the Colonial humans looking for Earth, so it made sense. This poor creature survived just 10 episodes, with nonsensical concepts like extraterrestrials gaining superhuman powers due to Earth having a different sun/gravitational pull (“Glen Larceny” strikes again!).

However one particular plot point is important here. The Colonials realize Earth is too backward to survive alien attack, and send some experts incognito to bring Earth science and technology up to snuff. One can imagine the Knight Foundation getting hold of Galactica technology, perhaps a couple of deactivated Cylon centurions – and building KITT based on alien AI. KITT’s evil twin KARR is also built from Cylon parts but reverts to type as an evil killer robot…

One “Face” missing from Galactica 1980 was Starbuck (Dirk Benedict). He puts in a cameo at the end of the series but otherwise is unseen. Let us suppose that Starbuck remains on Earth, continuing to do good working in the Los Angeles underground as part of a renegade mercenary outfit…

Face and the Cylon – The A-Team – 2×10, EmmaJaneMurdock


The Aston Martin in The Cannonball Run (1981)

The Cannonball Run (trailer), DagobahZone

My favourite car however has to be this one featured in many James Bond movies, however, it is its appearance in this movie, that wins the race to the top of this chart. The film is The Cannonball Run (1981) and tells of a cross-country car race with a 1980s all-star cast.

Heading the acting cast is 1980s heart-throb (for some) Burt Reynolds and a cast including Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jnr and Jackie Chan. Cars include a Ferrari, a Lamborghini and a Rolls Royce Silver Shadow. The film is a timeless classic and it was a firm favourite of my family as a kid. We watched it avidly on a Bank Holiday or as part of the Christmas TV line up.

However, the man – and the car – who stole the show was famous as James Bond.. none other than Roger Moore. Moore hams it up big time in his role as Seymour Goldfarb, Jr, a terribly stereotyped English mother’s boy with all the privileges and heir to the family fortune. In a delightful turn of events, Goldfarb believes he is Roger Moore.

With the James Bond theme playing in his scenes, a different girl in every shot, Moore’s James Bond-parody tongue in cheek role is a joy to watch. Moore drives my favourite car of this movie, an Aston Martin DB5, which has appeared in many a James Bond Film from Thunderball (1965) to Casino Royale (2006).

This car has been driven by all the Bonds bar one in at least one of their films..and it’s probably the car most associated with Bond. James Bond. Ironically, it has not been driven in a Bond film with Roger Moore which must have driven him up the wall.



6 thoughts on “FILMS and TV… Five Fave 1980s Film and Telly Cars

  1. All great stuff, including the KITT theory from your hubby. Glad you mentioned Cannonball Run as I did on the podcast, just we picked different cars from that movie. However, Rose picked one of her favorites as the Bond Aston Martin. Awesome writing skills!

    Liked by 1 person

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